About Us



Who we are — the traditional music and dance community

The Triangle Traditional Music and Dance Retirement Society is a group of traditional music and dance enthusiasts from the Durham-Chapel Hill-Raleigh area of North Carolina. We are musicians, dancers and just plain appreciators of all kinds of acoustic music (Irish, bluegrass, etc.) and participatory dance (contradance, English country, folk, etc.). We are a vibrant community, young and old, from many walks of life, who have bonds of friendship and caring that go beyond the events that bring us together to play music and dance. We gather to celebrate birthdays, weddings, holidays and other joyful events and to enjoy each other’s company in book clubs, nights out at the movies, and jam sessions. Very much like a service club, fraternal order or a religious congregation, the members of our community take care of each other in illness and adversity through informal acts of kindness and through a formal system of “care teams” that provide food, transportation, and company to those in need.

Aging together

We want to find ways to enjoy music and dance well into our old age and even up to the day we die. However, we know that as we age it will be harder to leave our homes to enjoy these traditions and each other’s company and caring. Some of us would like to create a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) to serve our group and others with similar interests. A CCRC commits to meeting its residents’ needs through the end of life and offers a combination of privacy, community, and organized support. More information about CCRCs can be found here.

Existing CCRCs in our area lack many of the elements that would support our traditions and our community. As a result, a group of us has been studying CCRCs and discussing with others either developing such a community for ourselves and like-minded people or finding an existing community that is willing to allow us to adapt their CCRC to support our interests. There are several other “niche” interest groups in the United States who are engaged in similar explorations of CCRCs. These include the country music community in Nashville and the lesbian and gay (LGBT) community. An LGBT retirement community opened a few years ago in California.

Other niche communities have built senior housing with common areas for their particular interests, but most of them have not included space or staff support for residents who can no longer live independently and manage their own financial affairs and/or daily living needs such as bathing and toileting. This is an inadequate solution for elders who do not have family available to provide care, resulting in isolation at home and eventual transition to assisted living or nursing home care where personal autonomy and identity are often lost.

We think there may be a critical mass of like-minded older adults in our area to support a community that would meet our needs and prevent this loss of identity and meaning in our later years. Such a community would contribute valuable resources to the surrounding area by providing new jobs and by attracting actively engaged retired volunteers who have skills as musicians, teachers, mentors and organizers. Although our initial discussions have emphasized people already involved in the music and dance traditions mentioned above, we welcome anyone who finds this sort of community attractive.


We are investigating options to build or partner with a continuing care retirement community near the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area to create the old age we desire.

The core of our vision is a “market-rate” continuing care retirement community:

    • A community center (dining venues, library, auditorium, swimming pool, wellness center with exercise and bodywork spaces, spirituality space for meditation and other spiritual practices, woodworking shop, greenhouse, and tavern)
    • Individual cottages of 1,000 to 1,800 square feet with garden space
    • Apartments in buildings connected to the community center (750-1800 square feet)
    • Household-model assisted living and skilled nursing (http://www.actionpact.com/household/household_model)
    • An adult day program and other enriched environments for people with memory loss
    • A home care/home health agency or contract to help people stay at home longer
    • An outpatient clinic
    • A child development center
    • A supportive staff with accountability and responsiveness to the wishes of the residents who live in the community (through resident seats on the board of directors and various resident-led committees that advise and guide staff leaders)

Because we are concerned about affordability, we also envision a moderate-income rental complex (perhaps with federal subsidies) that provides adult housing with support services. This facility could share infrastructure with the CCRC.

Because we want to encourage traditional music and dance and make it accessible to both residents and those from the broader community, we want to create a national or regional center:

    • Dance hall(s)/auditorium(s)
    • Practice and teaching spaces
    • Dormitories and/or motel-style rooms
    • Dining spaces
    • A lake or swimming pool
    • Campgrounds
    • Office space
    • Adequate parking space

Sharing common infrastructure service elements such as dining services, maintenance, grounds, transportation, security, and housekeeping will help make this concept more affordable. Residents of the CCRC would be able to teach master classes, perform, and/or work or volunteer in the programs and operations of the cultural center next door, creating a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

We realize that not all elements of this vision may prove feasible, but these are our guiding ideas.

  • Form a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization (completed).
  • Contact development consultants who are working with other niche communities (in process).
  • Contract for a market study to assess demand (completed).
  • Raise money for a consultant to guide us in a planning process (in process).
  • Contract for a feasibility study, including programmatic design and a business plan.
  • Re-incorporate as a development non-profit.
  • Have conversations with existing CCRCs in our area about partnership.
  • If no partnership emerges, look for investor financing to build from scratch.

BOARD MEMBERS: Triangle Traditional Music and Dance Retirement Society

Mareah Steketee, President

Bev Cowdrick, Vice-president

Bree Kalb, Secretary

Doug Shier, Treasurer

Francine Warwick, At-large

Alan Julich, At-large

Pat Petersen, At-large